New report urges governments to take swift action to face climate challenges

18 Oct 2011

Governments around the world should take immediate actions to adapt to the impact of changing weather patterns on a wide range of economic and social activities, according to a top policy official of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the launch of a report released today.

“Governments must start now to incorporate climate risks into plans and policies across all sectors, including urban development, coastal planning, agriculture, water and forestry management, and electricity production,” said Olav Kjorven, Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy.

“Climate change is not solely an environmental issue,” he added, speaking alongside representatives of the report’s publisher, the World Resources Institute, and its co-authors, the UN Environment Programme and the World Bank. “It’s an issue that needs to be taken into account in order to ensure that human development is sustainable over the long term.”

The report, titled ‘Decision Making in a Changing Climate’, explores challenges and offers recommendations for national-level government officials to make informed and effective decisions following recent extreme weather events, as well as long-term disruptions related to climate change.

From massive droughts in the Horn of Africa to record rainfall in the United States and wildfires in Brazil, an array of recent extreme weather events has highlighted these challenges. More than 950 natural disasters in 2010, 90 percent of which were weather-related, cost a total of at least US$130 billion, according to the global insurance company Munich Re.

Drawing on input from over 100 experts in over 35 countries, the report includes 12 case studies of innovative responses to climate change, such as wildfire management in Brazil, information sharing on agriculture in Mali and glacial flood management in Nepal.

“What’s clear beyond doubt is that the decisions leaders make today will have a profound effect on their countries’ ability to find real, lasting solutions to adapt to this global crisis,” said Manish Bapna, Interim President, the World Resources Institute.

“This report provides decision makers with concepts and information they need – drawn from real world experiences – to make smart choices and ensure that decision making is effective and durable in the light of these challenges.”

Among the main tools and recommendations made by the report are; tailoring adaptation to address uneven vulnerability among populations, incorporating strategies to balance both short- and long-term policy objectives, and planning for uncertainty and a longer time horizon when making decisions.

“National, regional and local governments, businesses, and civil society are already making decisions to make the transition to a climate resilient, low-carbon future and build the green economies of the twenty-first century,” said Kaveh Zahedi, Coordinator of UNEP’s Climate Change Program.

‘Decision Making in a Changing Climate’ is the 13th edition of the World Resources Report, a series that has been published over a 25 year period.